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LUXURY RESORTS:  Evian Resort, Evian-Les-Baines, Lake Geneva, France
As soon as I walked through the doors of my suite, it was clear that I was in a room with a serious view.
 
I was staying at the Hotel Ermitage within the Evian Resort, located on the south bank of beautiful Lake Geneva on the French side. My room looked over the manicured grounds, down towards its sister hotel, The Royal and onto the lake.
 
Before I embarked on my rather 'strenuous' spa itinerary, the only thing to do after my journey was crack open a chilled glass of Evian water from the mini-bar, open the windows and relax for a few minutes and enjoy the fresh breeze off the lake.'

hotel ermitage bedroom
hotel ermitage bedroom
les fresques
evian golf
la table restaurant
spa quatre terre
view from the hotel

The Evian Resort includes Hotel Ermitage and The Royal, the resort's golf course and also the attractions in the nearby town. Guests staying at either hotel can use all of the resort's facilities.
 
Obviously the iconic French H20 is celebrated throughout the resort but in a classy, subtle way. There is no Disney-like caricature (shudder the thought of Evian-man) or flashy images, instead there are hints of the famous water and its journey from mountain to spring such as in the bathrooms' decor which have been designed to include natural shades and materials including pebbles and slate, Evian artwork in the spas and as the basis of treatments in the spas.
 
The Ermitage was recently renovated by Parisian interior designer Patrick Ribes to become the cool and funky younger sister, if you will, to the grander dame that is the Royal. Bold print and bright colours make quite an impact throughout the hotel and create a warm and intimate feeling.
 
In contrast to Hotel Ermitage's intimacy, the Hotel Royal is much grander. Built between 1906 and 1909, the architect's aim was to create 'the best hotel in the world'. As the reputation of the local area grew as a fashionable spa town, celebrities and royalty including Kings Edward VII and George V came to 'take the waters' and stay in luxury at the Royal. Such was the splendour and elegance that it has remained grand enough for world leaders including Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Silvio Berlusconi and Presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush to stay at the Royal during the 29th G8 summit in 2003. Ten years on it remains just as grand, but is currently undergoing renovations to maintain its beauty.
 
During our stay TLTB spent an afternoon at the immaculate Evian Resort Golf Club, just minutes from the hotels. Since 1994 the course has hosted the Evian Masters women's golf tournament, which will become the Evian Championship in September 2013. The course has beautiful views of the lake and golf lessons can be arranged with golf pro Patrick, whose expertise and patience made for a highly entertaining and rewarding afternoon.
 
Above the club house is the Le Manoir du Golf. The seven rooms and a suite are available to guests and is the choice of professionals during the tournament, it's views of the manicured greens and its close proximity to the driving range makes it The Ultimate golfer's stay.
 
Any spa enthusiasts who come to the Evian Resort will be spoilt for choice by the three options. Located centrally in the town of Evian is the Les Thermes Evian, which guests can access via the resort's shuttle bus.
 
Spa Quatre Terre at Hotel Ermitage is inspired by nature and the elements, the basis of each treatment comes from four pure elements - clay, precious stones, crystals and oils. The elements' benefits are combined with ancestral American-Indian, Tibetan and Chinese techniques to create a diverse spa menu. Following my detox treatment I left the spa feeling incredibly serene, while the golfer in my party benefited from his speciality golf treatment which massaged tired muscles using clay and golf balls.
 
Hotel Royal's Spa Evian Source is the perfect location to sit and relax while taking in the beautiful views over the Lake. This spa, taking inspiration from its setting and rich historical past, aims to restore vitality and youth. One of TLTB favourite features was the hydro circuit. The outdoors circuit, surrounded by nature takes you  through an energising track of  whirlpools, water currents and jets which will leave you feeling exhilarated and invigorated (even if it does start to rain).
 
After a day in the spa you can work up quite an appetite and there are many options to see you through the day.
 
Hotel Ermitage's dining options include La Bibliotheque and La Table. As with the rest of the hotel both are relaxed and cosy options serving delicious modern French dishes using local ingredients and fresh fish from the Lake.  If you wish to continue your good work in the spa, choose from the healthier Spa Menu ... however take it from us, if you get the chance you must try the Mojito Babas.
 
The hotel's bar, Le Birdie has a wonderful atmosphere which spills out into the lobby and also to the terrace, inviting you in for a relaxing drink or bar snack. As TLTB found out bartenders like to test their skills and create delicious cocktails to suit each guest.
 
Dining at The Royal is a much grander affair. The beautiful Les Fresques' beautifully decorated ceiling and views of Lake Geneva, will leave you awe-struck before even sitting down to enjoy the gourmet menus and fine wines.
 
Many chic European families come to the resort and with good reason as little luxies are welcomed with open arms. The Kids Resort has a range of unique programmes tailored to guests from four months to 16 years old with activities including rafting, swimming, sport lessons, games and cooking with the hotel chefs.
 
When you tire of the spa (hey, it might happen!) there is also plenty to do in the local area. The two hotels are located close to the town of Evian where local attractions include Les Thermes and the Casino. From both hotels you can arrange a shuttle to and from the town. TLTB can thoroughly recommend a relaxing stroll through the town to explore the shops and cafes or take a walk along the banks of beautiful Lake Geneva which on a clear day is framed by the snow-topped Alps and to look across the water to Switzerland.
 
A visit to the unassuming Cachat Evian spring is a must. From the constant flow you can sip the luxury iconic water for free and direct from its source. It is also interesting to watch as locals come with bottles and barrels to fill up for their daily needs (and then marvel at how much this would cost them if they had to purchase it in the shops).
From the hotels you can arrange a number of outdoor activities such as water skiing, hiking and mountain biking. On our last day at the resort TLTB was all set to go white-water rafting, but unfortunately the heavens opened (in fifteen years we should be drinking it out of those famous plastic bottles) so alternative plans had to be arranged.
Instead TLTB ventured down-stairs of the Royal Hotel for a cooking lesson. Through broken English and French we managed to communicate with pastry chef Stephane to learn how to make that wonderful French delicacy, Macaroons. No doubt due to the tutor's skill rather than his student's my spread of chocolate macaroons looked as delicious as the ones we had dined on with coffee at Les Fresques the previous night.
As TLTB checked out of the hotel we left feeling relaxed, refreshed, hydrated and extremely well fed! Our box of hand-made macaroons accompanied us as a rather tasty treat for the journey home.
 
Check in: Evian Resort, Rive Sud du Lac de Genève,   Evian-les-Bains, France
Ultimate Luxury:  Dining on classic dishes and sipping Champagne at Les Fresques under its stunning ceiling and with its spectacular views overlooking Lake Geneva.
Most Indulgent Moment: An anti-aging 'Diamond Youthfulness Treatment' at La Spa quatre terres ... they really are a girl's best friend.
Insider Secrets: Hugh Grant signed the visitor's book at the Golf Couse when he stayed in Evian to watch the tournament a couple of years ago.
The Little Things:  Bottles of Evian spray in the bathroom amenities (a must for any long-haul flight!).
Junior Luxies: This resort was made for the Little Luxies! The Kids Club sounded like so much fun, TLTB wished we could spend an afternoon there ourselves.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Resorts Link: www.evianresort.com
Sarah Bryans, 2/8/13
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